Ex-MP Katy Clark selected as Labour MSP candidate for Cunninghame North

Sienna Rodgers

Katy Clark, a Labour peer and former MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, has been selected as Labour’s MSP candidate for Cunninghame North against Johanna Baxter in a victory for the party’s left.

Clark won the selection race with 38 votes against 31 for Baxter, a member of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) and Scottish executive committee (SEC) and chair of the Cunninghame North local party.

Baxter had fought the seat for Labour last time in the Scottish parliamentary election in 2016. LabourList sources say the result of the fresh candidate selection contest was split along factional lines.

Commenting on her win, Clark told LabourList: “I am delighted to have been selected as Labour’s candidate for Cunninghame North. Now more than ever Labour needs a positive vision for Scotland.

“And Cunninghame North needs a MSP who will fight for jobs, investment and the eradication of poverty. I am really looking forward to the campaign.”

Local party Stephen McNeill secretary added: “It is a pleasure to have Katy Clark as our candidate and I am looking forward to campaigning with her next year with good socialist policies.”

Clark served as MP for North Ayrshire and Arran from 2005 to 2015, when the UK parliamentary seat was lost to the SNP. She is on the Labour left and was political secretary to Jeremy Corbyn when he was leader.

After conducting Labour’s democracy review, and standing as a candidate on the London list in the 2019 European parliamentary elections, Clark was made Baroness Clark of Kilwinning in the Lords this year.

Cunninghame North is a safe SNP seat currently held by Kenneth Gibson – but he is facing a probe into alleged bullying and harassment, and the SNP suspended its selection race for the MSP seat in October.

Two SNP officials recently resigned over claims that Gibson had engaged in “aggressive and abrasive” behaviour “especially of women”. The MSP has called it a “vicious and mendacious smear campaign”.

The MSP won a majority of 8,724 at the last election, with the Conservative candidate Jamie Greene placing second. Greene, now a regional list MSP, has been reselected for the constituency next year.

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